Monday, January 22, 2007

One Flew Over the Homeland

Jose Padilla is an American citizen who was held for 1,307 days in solitary confinement in a military prison in South Carolina. He has suffered interrogation, sleep deprivation, and torture. He has more or less lost his mind by now. Keep in mind that most people crack and confess to whatever is asked of them in the first 24 hours of interrogations. The Justice Department of John Ashcroft once claimed that he was plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty" bomb, but admitted they had no evidence, and later abandoned that accusation.

Reuters news article by Jane Sutton dated Sun Jan 21, 11:17 AM ET

Padilla was kept in a 9-by-7-foot (3-by-2-metre) cell, the lone occupant in a two-story, 10-unit block, defense lawyer Andrew Patel wrote in an affidavit. The windows were blocked so no light could enter and meals, often cold, were delivered through a slot in the door, Patel said.

Interrogators ordered his pillow and foam mattress removed, forcing Padilla to sleep on a bare steel platform.

Padilla was kept without a clock, calendar or reading material, sometimes for long periods in darkness, and other times for long periods under bright light. He was subjected to extreme cold, deprived of sleep, chained in painful positions and drugged with what he believed to be "truth serum," the documents alleged.

For the first two years, he was not allowed to speak with a lawyer nor send or receive mail, except for a brief note sent to his mother in Florida through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A comment from a doctor, in the second sentence of the news story:
He is a bit paranoid and believes the government is persecuting him, "but this does not appear to be delusional," wrote one of doctors who examined the alleged al Qaeda operative in a Miami prison cell at his lawyers' request.
In other words, just because he's paranoid doesn't mean the government's not out to get him.

Note the gratuitous use of the term "alleged al Qaeda operative" in the news story. I'm not sure that the government is even alleging that anymore. His main crime now seems to be being a gangbanger who converted to Islam, and visiting Egypt and Pakistan. What more do they need to know? Prosecutors say Padilla is "not entitled to a free pass." It's hard to believe that this is the country where I grew up, but that is a snapshot of life in America in the noughties, where civil rights have fallen to the bottom of the world, looking more like Algeria, Egypt, or Sudan now.

Due to post-traumatic stress disorder, Jose may never be capable of holding a job. The government that slowly and deliberately took his mind should support his rehabilitation now.

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